Expert articles and wine tasting videos profiling wines from California, California wine regions, Napa Valley, Sonoma County, & more.

2017 Dakota Shy Cabernet Sauvignon Ten, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2017
Score: 
96
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$95.00USD

Tasted on a visit to the winery.  This is 5% Cabernet Franc and the rest is Cabernet Sauvignon.  It has an intense purple color, almost neon bright.  The nose is primary but quite good with cassis, slight black cherry and lumber.  On the palate, this has strong tannins.  It also has a very lively texture which I attribute to great balance, acidity and purity of fruit.  Lots of cassis with a nice underlying minerality.  This winery had been highly recommended to me but this was my first time trying the wines so it is a bit hard to evaluate growth and maturity.  Still, I would estimate that i

2016 Detert Family Vineyards Cabernet Franc East Block Oakville, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2016
Score: 
97
Grade: 
A+
Current Price: 
$177.00USD

During a recent visit to the Napa Valley, I had a chance to meet with Tom Garrett.  Tom is part of the Detert Family of wines who own a portion of the historic To Kalon vineyard.  The Detert's and the MacDonalds are cousins whose lineage goes back to a common owner of a parcel of the vineyard from the early 1950's.  The Detert's portion grows mostly Cabernet Franc although there is some Cabernet Sauvignon.  This particular bottling is their top Cabernet Franc and it is as good as any made anywhere.  Although still very young, this is a wine that has great concentration and will age graceful

2016 Schramsberg Vineyards Brut Rosé, USA, California, Calistoga, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2016
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-

This is a sparkling wine from California.  Oddly enough, I tasted it while stopping for lunch in Napa at the Oakville Grocer.  A couple seated next to me had ordered a bottle for lunch but only finished two thirds of it, and offered us the rest.  Who am I to refuse such a generous invitation.  The wine itself was very good and indeed, better than I had expected.  It is a blend of 64% Pinot Noir and 36% Chardonnay grown.  It is a pale pink/orange color, clear and bright with a good amount of smaller bubbles.  The nose is nice with strawberries, raspberries and a touch of yeast.  On the palat

2017 MacDonald Cabernet Sauvignon, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2017
Score: 
97
Grade: 
A+

What a treat.  On a recent visit to Napa, we go to walk the vineyards with Alex MacDonald and learn so much about this venerated vineyard and hear about the "newer" winemaking at MacDonald.  And to top it off, we got to try the recently bottled 2017 Cabernet (not yet released).  The story is worth Googling , but the short version is that at the heart of the To Kalon Vineyard in Napa are some very old Cabernet Sauvignon vines.  They have been owned by the MacDonald family since 1954.  These have been used in the top Mondavi wines since before there was even a Mondavi Winery.  Due to some cop

2017 Walt Pinot Noir Clos Pepe, USA, California, Santa Barbara, Santa Rita Hills, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2017
Score: 
91
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$75.00USD

Walt is the name that Hall, a Napa producer, releases a line of Pinot Noir.  This was my first time trying one that I recall.  It is a big fruit forward styled Pinot.  Deep ruby in color.  The nose has black cherries, sour cherries and spice.  Also a slight bit of dark chocolate.  On the palate, there is a lot of fruit.  Noticeable alcohol but not hot.  Sweet black cherries.  Deep if still tight.  It seems to need about five to seven more years of cellaring an then should have 8 to 12 years after that.  There is certainly some upside potential in the score.  This will work well with Roasted

2012 Rivers-Marie Chardonnay B. Thieriot Vineyard, USA, California, Sonoma Coast, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2012
Score: 
95
Grade: 
A
Current Price: 
$67.00USD

Consistently one of the best Chardonnay's coming from Napa.  It is a hypothetical cross in style between a fatter Burgundy and a racier California Chardonnay.  It is a bit tropical and definitely shows some oak, but used deftly.  Always a hit when a bottle is opened.  Pale golden in color.  The nose has vanilla, lemons and minerals.  Complex.  On the palate, this is round but with enough acidity to make it work.  Vanilla and lemon cream.  Long finish.  This keeps unwinding in the glass.   Not a baby but not yet at peak depending how you like your Chards.  This will work great on its own or

2014 Outpost Cabernet Sauvignon True Vineyard, USA, California, Napa, Howell Mountain, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2014
Score: 
98
Grade: 
A+
Current Price: 
$300.00USD

Outpost Cabernet's probably don't get enough respect.  They are some of the top Cabs being made in Napa.  Plus, if you like the concentrated mountain fruit, look no further.  This is purple in color, ruby at the rim.  Shiny and bright.  The nose is dusty with black cherries, cassis and an interesting watercress note to it.  Not exactly green as much as crisp and clean.  On the palate, this is full bodied and complex.  A beautiful streak of acidity.  Cassis and tart cherries.  Long finish.  Medium tannins.  This is still young and will likely improve.  This bottle was consumed on a trip to N

2014 MacDonald Cabernet Sauvignon, USA, California, Napa, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2014
Score: 
98
Grade: 
A+
Current Price: 
$475.00USD

There are a few reviews of this wine posted on this site but this wine, or at least this bottle, seemed much tighter than prior bottles.  It was spectacular but tight with no decant.  It was opened while visiting friends in Napa, so it could be that due to the bottle having flown 2,500 miles earlier in the day.  Travel shock with wines is controversial but I know I was tired, so why wouldn't the wine?  After all, it is a living breathing thing too.  Anyway, this bottle was opened as we were visiting the property the following day, and it gave a nice reference point to one of the great wines

2018 ZD Wines Chardonnay Rosa Lee, USA, California, Napa Wine Review

Vintage: 
2018
Score: 
90
Grade: 
A-
Current Price: 
$38.00USD

Golden in color, with slight green tinges to it.  The nose has slight vanilla and slight fresh oak along with some lemons.  Overall though, it is still quite tight.  On the palate, this has a nice mouth feel.  Vanilla, lemons and oak.  It opens with some air but is still very young.  It is very good but should continue to improve over the next few years.  It makes some sense to hold these if you have good storage.  It drinks well on its own and will go with heavier sea food dishes or even salads or lighter fowl dishes.  

2010 Jaffurs Syrah Verna's, USA, California, Santa Barbara, Wine Review

Vintage: 
2010
Score: 
94
Grade: 
A

Beautiful wine.  Deep ruby in color, purple core.  The nose has black raspberries, iodine and slight char.  Still pretty youthful and tannic on pop and pour.  It opens nicely with some air.  Lots of black raspberry fruit with some spice.  Nice texture.  Good finish.  This was very ripe in its youth though has settled in very nice now.  It may still get a bit better but is drinking very well now.  It will go well with meats and fowl or Indian food too.  It easily has another decade left and probably a bit more.  

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